Deschutes River, Lower

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GAGE
TIME
FT/CFS
℉/Turb
GRAPHS
10 am
4.38/46
7 30 year
10 am
2.74/3880
56.7
10 am
2.51/4130
63.9
08/01:

The fires are out, but the damage remains. Both sides of the river are burned up from Macks Canyon to the mouth. Camping places and outhouses are hard to find in that stretch of the river. So is shade, since most of the alders burned. The riverside will recover, in time, but right now it's not a pretty picture.

That said, summer steelhead are available. The counts are better than last year, and cooler weather arrives this week, which will help. How long will the cooler weather stick around? Anybody's guess!

Caddis hatches this year are strong, says Alex Hazel at Deschutes Angler Fly Shop. Look for afternoon and evening hatches throughout the river. Bugs are tan and size 16-18. Euro nymphers are doing well, especially in the upper parts of riffly water.

Importance by half-month
 Super    Major    Minor    Slight    None

Hatches are matched from Westfly's database of "standard" fly patterns.


Pupa

Size 12-18 Soft Hackle, , Deep Sparkle Pupa. Body: tan, green; Shroud: tan

Riffles, runs, just below riffles: surface swing, shallow nymph

Adult

Size 12-18 Goddard Caddis, X Caddis, Parachute Caddis, Elk Hair Caddis. Body: brown, green, dark gray; Wing: tan, brown

Egg-layer

Size 12-18 Diving Caddis, Soft Hackle. Body: brown; Wing: black

Riffles, current seams, backeddies below riffles: surface swing, shallow nymph, rising nymph

► Good places to cast a caddis pattern are bouldery areas and along grassy banks.

► In the evening, look for hatches of gray and ginger caddis. The former are about size 18 with gray bodies and gray wings; the latter are usually a size 16 with ginger wings and olive or brown bodies.

► When imitating caddis, many anglers use an Elk Hair Caddis. Unless the water is rough, I like to trim the hackle on the bottom so the fly rides lower in the water.

► Pupa patterns, such as the Deep Sparkle Pupa, fished near the bottom can also induce grabs throughout the morning and again in the evening.

► Sometimes you'll see numbers of small gray adult caddis clinging to the downstream side of mid-river rocks. If you spot this, tie on a gray size 16-18 Soft Hackle or Diving Caddis and present it with a surface swing downstream from where you see the caddis.

► Primary caddis activity is early morning before the light hits the water, and in the evening. The hotter the weather, the more the activity is compressed into the very end of the day--right up to total darkness.

► In the evening, you can enounter adult, pupa, and egg-laying stages all at the same time and place, but trout may be focused on only one stage. So if one approach doesn't work, switch flies and tactics.

► Egg-laying caddis like the broken water of a riffle because it's easy to penetrate. Once they're through the surface, they swim to the bottom and lay their eggs. So use a Soft Hackle, Diving Caddis, or similar fly with a surface swing in riffly areas.

► Several caddis species are active this month. Usually (but not always) Oregon's trout are not selective. You can cover the spectrum with size-14 dry flies in tan and green, and size 16 to 18 in black or dark brown. Pupa patterns of the same size are also useful.

Pupa

Size 10-22 Chans Chironomid Pupa, Zebra Midge. Black, gray, olive, red, creams, browns

► Hatches are common at dusk. Carry a seine so you can check the size and color of whatever is drifting down the river.

► Midge fishing is best in quiet runs, in backeddies, and near rocky banks that create mini-eddies. You'll find whitefish feeding in the slackwater areas, and trout where there's more current; sometimes only a couple of feet will separate the two species of fish.

► A midge pupa pattern is usually the best choice during a midge hatch, but sometimes a Griffiths Gnat or Sprout Midge will pick up fish. Use size 18-20 patterns.

Trout


► Trout often gather in the fast pocket water when it's hot because that water has lots of oxygen and the broken surface provides cover. You can fish nymphs in this water, but you'll need plenty of weight to get the fly near the bottom.

► Deschutes trout can be moody in August--acutally, I always find the Deschutes moody all the time, but August is especially so. Some days are just going to be bad, and there's not much you can do about it.

► Once the sun is high, go subsurface or use a dry fly/dropper rig (24-30 inch leader off the hook bend of the dry fly; tie a small nymph, such as Silveys Super Sinker to it). Seek areas where trout have overhead cover: overhanging vegetation, frothy water, deeper pools, etc. Work nymphs down near the bottom in these areas. Or just give up until evening.

► When the sun is on the water, you might pick up some trout on terrestrial beetle or ant patterns. The Deschutes is not a "grasshopper" river, so forget whatever you learned in Montana in August.

► If you're nymphing, bright flashy nymphs can be productive at this time of year. Copper Johns, Lightning Bugs, etc.; or just a Hares Ear doctored with some strands of Flashabou can be effective.

► Small dead bugs are important at this time of year. Blue-winged olive spinners in size 18-20 and midge pupa patterns can be effective in the mornings; look for fish working foam lines, backeddies, and along steep banks.

► Most trout will turn off the instant the sun hits the water; they'll come back when they're in the shade again.

► Late in the month, a good strategy is to cast a two-nymph rig with a stonefly nymph (Rubber Legs, Kaufmanns Stonefly) on the point and a size 16 caddis pupa (Deep Sparkle Pupa, Soft Hackle, or equivalent) on a dropper. Early in the day, you'll pick up more trout on the stonefly nymph, but later in the day you'll get the majority of your trout on the pupa.

Steelhead


► August steelheading can be inconsistent. Much depends on the relative temperature of the Columbia and Deschutes. If the Deschutes is cooler than the Columbia, steelhead will move into the Deschutes. If not, they won't. Sometimes the Columbia gets a thermal barrier between The Dalles and Bonneville dams, and steelhead just tuck into the deep pools until later in the year. If that happens, steelheading will get a late start on the Deschutes (and even later on the Grande Ronde). Check the fish counts over the Columbia River dams. See how many fish have gone over Bonneville Dam, then check how many have gone over The Dalles Dam. If they haven't gone past The Dalles Dam, they won't be in the Deschutes.

► We could have fishable numbers of steelhead in the Maupin area by the end of the month (or not), and maybe even a few fish above Trout Creek. Even if the temperature cools down, the bulk of the fish are going to be below Shears Falls until late in the month.

► The best steelhead fishing will be in the early morning; evenings will be okay, but not quite as good as mornings. In the evening you'll have to contend with that strong up-canyon wind, which makes casting difficult. Mornings are usually calmer.

► Evening water temperatures can be significantly higher than morning temps. Take a thermometer and measure the water. If it's over 70, don't fish.
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